Revolution Is a Work in Progress

woodwind quintet play as listeners focus
Mistral Winds woodwind quintet draws listeners at St. Cece’s Pub in Corktown during Knight Project event.

Having begun the Knight Project to expand our Classical Revolution Detroit series in January, we’ve again witnessed the usual results: several people thanking us for sharing classical and symphonic music where they least expected it. Managers for well established music venues such as Northern Lights Lounge and Baker’s Keyboard Lounge were happy to try us out during the day so we wouldn’t risk driving out their regular diners.

We amplified (as usual) so patrons could talk, move about, laugh, drink and eat without fear of being shushed out. We entertained, telling the story about who we are and why we wanted to do this. And we informed, explaining principals of tension and release (the emotional basis of instrumental music), what makes the music classical, and why two themes in music is sometimes better than one.

We featured guest ensembles Light Metal Band brass quintet and Mistral Winds woodwind quintet, in addition to CutTime Simfonica as the house band, to demonstrate the variety of instruments and music possible in classical music, about which we assume the average Joe knows next to nothing. And we gave tastes of several long-dead, recently-dead and two living-and-present composers; myself and frequent guest, high school senior Jherrard Hardemann, who conducted us in his third string quartet.

Also joining us, for her first time, was Acquanetta Moore, who loved playing Bach and Espinoza on her guitar, but may not have many opportunities to play in public.

guitarist plays while keyboardist and photographer listen
Guitarist Acquanetta Moore challenges herself to play publicly as part of the Knight Project.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, as part of its Knight Arts Challenge series, has made possible more direct connections between artists and the community wondering what art beyond commercial art may do for them. While a few musicians playing in your neighborhood restaurant may not seem like much, a few musicians coming every few months or so may grow into a habit.

One thing I’ve begun to realize early into this, is the necessity to sustain these events in each new venue over years and without me leading them, if they are to reach their full potential warming thousands up to classical. One of the leading mechanisms of inspiration is nostalgia (perhaps in balance with novelty). Like ion propulsion, the longer the new tradition is sustained, the more nostalgia will build. By offering a taste of classical music, we develop the appetite, the unconscious hunger for this alternative way to make music.

String quartet playing in pub
CutTime Simfonica plays at St. Cece’s Pub in Corktown, Detroit for Knight Foundation project.

What do you think about this?